A Baltimore jury convicted Alvin Ray Wright Sr. Tuesday of grabbing a 13-year-old girl just a block from her home, throwing her into the basement of a vacant East Baltimore building and repeatedly raping her.
"She thought she was going to die," Assistant State's Attorney Aaliyah Muhammad said during closing arguments. "He beat her into submission."
As the jury returned its guilty verdict on the first count, a faint, thin smile passed the lips of the girl. Her father hugged her tight. Three corrections officers led Wright out of the courtroom in chains.
He faces life in prison at his sentencing, which is scheduled for May 15.
"I'm speechless," said the victim's mother, who asked not to be identified to protect her daughter's identity. The Baltimore Sun does not name victims of sexual assault. "I'm glad it's over. We can live on."
The October 2011 attack showed in horrific fashion the dangers posed by the city's vacant homes. The building where the girl was raped in the 800 block of N. Caroline St. had long been empty, and Muhammad speculated that Wright was familiar with it.
"How long had he been lurking?" in wait for a vulnerable person to attack, she asked the jury.
As Muhammad finished her arguments earlier Tuesday, she urged the jury to "find justice" for the victim, pointing her out in the courtroom. The girl shook visibly as the prosecutor recounted the evidence.
Wright, 49, was charged in connection with the Oct. 17, 2011, attack after DNA evidence implicated him in the crime.
Wright, who scribbled notes throughout the closing arguments, was convicted on three counts of first-degree rape, three counts of first-degree sex offense and a single count of first-degree assault. The jury deliberated for two hours Tuesday afternoon.
"He was of course disappointed in the verdict," said Garland Sanderson, Wright's attorney.
In his closing arguments, Sanderson had disputed the validity of the DNA evidence, questioned whether Wright was behind the attack, and argued that even if he was, prosecutors did not have enough evidence to prove rape.
"The state's attorney wants you to be upset," Sanderson told jurors. "But your job is to look at the facts of the case and apply the law."
As the victim walked home that evening, Muhammad said, the girl knew to be wary of the vacant houses on the 800 block of N. Caroline St., and tried to avoid Wright when she saw him.
But Wright grabbed her around the neck to stop her crying out and pushed his victim into the house, the prosecutor said. The girl fell six feet because it had no floor and Wright leaped down and raped her three times, forced her to perform fellatio and beat her in the face and body, she added.
People living on the block heard the girl's screams but could not find her, Muhammad said, and Wright carried on as they searched on the street, moving her to another part of the house.
He then fled the vacant building, climbing on a plank to get out, the prosecutor said, pointing to his apparent knowledge that he could get out as evidence that he had been planning the attack.
The girl piled items up and clambered out, according to a police report. Someone who lived nearby found her bloodied and dirty, and doctors at Mercy Medical Center reported that some of the girl's teeth had been knocked loose in the attack, her mouth was bloodied, and she had injuries consistent with being raped, Muhammad said.
The house where the attack took place had long been empty and was for a while owned by the city, which had struggled to keep it securely boarded up. But by the summer of 2012, a developer had rehabilitated the building, along with a number of others on the block.
Wright has a previous felony conviction that meant his DNA was in a state database, which was vital in building the case, police said at the time of his arrest. Processing of the DNA was sped up because of the horrific nature of the attack, police added.
None of Wright's convictions was on charges of sexual violence, something Sanderson pointed to as strange. "Is it reasonable to think that someone at the age of 49 just loses it?" he asked.
The victim's father said that after Wright is sentenced he will never have a chance to hurt anyone again.
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